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Now Yusuf rides the inner-peace train

The former Cat Stevens has a new CD, 'Roadsinger,' and plans for an L.A. concert.

May 03, 2009|Randy Lewis

He wrote a song about his being denied entrance into the country, "Boots and Sand," giving the whole affair a lightly whimsical spin. The recording, which will be offered as a bonus track at because Yusuf said "it didn't fit with the rest of the material for the new album," features guest vocals from Paul McCartney, Dolly Parton and Alison Krauss.

The title song on "Roadsinger" codifies his own story of a troubadour seeking enlightenment. "To Be What You Must" explores what is necessary on that road, the phrase taken from 13th century German theologian Meister Eckhart: "To be what you must, you must give up what you are."

In "World of Darkness," Yusuf sings again of his wish that humanity live in harmony instead of discord. It's one of the songs he's using in a new stage musical, "Moonshadow," that he expects to mount in London by the end of this year. It's an allegorical work about the search for spiritual light, incorporating signature songs from the Cat Stevens days and several new compositions.

"I love the music that I'm making today," he said. "I'm very, very pleased to be able to write songs and turn people's heads, remind them in a way somewhat of my previous songs and things that touched them. And touch people again."

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Monday, May 04, 2009 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 National Desk 1 inches; 52 words Type of Material: Correction
Yusuf Islam profile: An article about singer Yusuf Islam, the former Cat Stevens, in Sunday's Arts and Books section said that his "Boots and Sand" song would be offered as a bonus track at The song will be available as a bonus track on iTunes and Best Buy but not Amazon.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday, May 10, 2009 Home Edition Sunday Calendar Part D Page 2 Calendar Desk 1 inches; 44 words Type of Material: Correction
Yusuf: An article about Yusuf, the former Cat Stevens, last Sunday said that his song "Boots and Sand" would be offered as a bonus track at The song will be available as a bonus track on iTunes and Best Buy but not Amazon.

Making up for lost time? Not exactly.

"I did come back to, I suppose, prove a point to myself: one, that I can still write a song," he said. "Not only that, but when you've done what I've done, there is something to sing about.

"I wanted to sing out for a more peaceful world again and looking at it, it's still very bad and we've got to do something to change that. But already, the fact that America has a dynamic new president -- who happens to be a black man and who happens to have a middle name of Hussein -- has said that the world can change." He laughs gently. "It's great."


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